War in Ukraine: AI at the service of intelligence

In Ukraine, Russian army radio communications are not always encrypted. Once they are collected by a radio emulator, an AI is responsible for translating and analyzing them. A gold mine for intelligence, but a tool that could prove to be a double-edged sword in the long term, on the battlefield.

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Yug 95, do you have contact with a senior? Warn him of artillery fire at highway level. On the road artillery fire. Do not advance by column. Move carefully. » This communication radio between Russian soldiers was intercepted, collected and analyzed in early March by a Artificial intelligence American. It shows the state of panic in which a column of armored Russians in the face of artillery fire from the Ukrainian army. The rest of the discussion may also reveal the maneuvers what the tanks intend to do to escape the fire.

As in many other cases, this radio communication was unencrypted, which surprised Western observers and military specialists. Is this the sign of a lack of preparation, of an overconfidence of the Russian army in its abilities, mixed with the underestimation of an enemy much smarter than it had imagined? In any case, the interception of these communications by the Ukrainian military can make a difference on the ground.

With its algorithms developed by the American company primer specialized in intelligence, artificial intelligence was able to collect, transcribe, translate and analyze the content of this type of conversation. It is with this kind of tool that numerous communications between Russian soldiers have been published and translated on the social networks. But, in the specific case of Primer, the advantage of this AI is its power of natural language processing and the relevance of the analysis of these communications. Their automatic interpretation in real time is decisive in the field to adapt strategies in the face of a powerful army.

This twittos collects unencrypted radio conversations between Russian units. In this example, he delivers firing coordinates stated by the Russian officer to his artillery. Shots aimed at the port city of Mariupol. © @xateond

AI in war

Primer is already seasoned in producing AIs trained to transcribe and translate phone calls. Since the beginning of the invasion, the company has embarked on capturing Russian radio communications using software emulating a radio receiver. Its algorithms then remove the noises that affect listening and only extract the words. Then, the processing makes it possible to identify the instructions and maneuvers that the units intend to carry out. It was also necessary to adapt the algorithm to the specific military vocabulary of therussian army. At this time, the company has not indicated who it is working with, but there is a chance that the Ukrainian army will benefit from its solution.

Although in many cases the voice recognition AIs used in this war are less powerful, this process once again shows how theONSIT (Open Source Intelligence) has become a powerful intelligence tool. In addition to voice recognition and its processing, Futura had explained that the tools for facial recognition were used extensively to identify Russian soldiers in the videos. It is perhaps in this way that senior officers were specifically targeted. Similarly, despite being prohibited from doing so, Russian soldiers sometimes used their smartphones by revealing their geolocation and, in some cases, their state of mind. With this war, technology became a major asset for an outnumbered army against the Russian bulldozer.

But, when decisions are based solely on AI without discernment, this can also have catastrophic consequences. Biases in algorithms could misinterpret actions. And then, if for the moment the use of AI on the battlefield is surprising, when the armies will be aware of its effectiveness, they will do everything to mislead the algorithms and make them counterproductive, even dangerous.

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War in Ukraine: AI at the service of intelligence

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